...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


picking blueberries

Blueberry time!
Blueberries are my favorite local fruit to pick.
So easy.

 Just reach in there with your hands and massage them off their stems.
If they're ready and they want to come, they will.
plop plop plop
into the bucket!

or, as Robert McCloskey writes in Blueberries for Sal,

But one of the best things about picking
 is that sometimes
the places
are just so beautiful.

breathtaking views of the valley here.

When I walk down to pick it feels like a whole mountainside is
covered in blueberry bushes.

We normally spend about 1.5 hours and manage to fill our buckets right up.
My lady friend always outpicks me, though.
(Or maybe I just out-eat her.)
I think it's a bit of both!

But who could resist sneaking handfuls of these blue jewels?
Certainly not I.

Full of antioxidants. 
So good and so good for us.


By the time I'm done picking I usually feel like the girl in
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
who ends up turning into a giant blueberry!

What do we do with 24 pounds of blueberries???

Besides stuffing ourselves with reckless abandon
until our hands and teeth look like we're turning into Smurfs,
we took our buckets of "bloobs" home and
baked a deep dish blueberry pie +
a giant blueberry cake
and froze the rest.

And we'll probably go again!

Maybe we'll make blueberry fruit leathers for the winter.
 Or press and can some blueberry juice.
Better yet, maybe some blueberry cordial or wine...

Oh, the possibilities!


frog castle

Every frog prince or princess needs a castle
while they're waiting for their spell to be broken
by their true love!

This sweet 'samurai' castle was made
by Lynn Unrah at Clay Soul.
So whimsical...  always makes me smile.


rain barrels

It's been a big time drought this summer.

The ground is cracking, opening itself up
for any trickle of water that could possibly seep in.

Our pond is down more than two feet.
The sweet little meandering stream in the chicken yard dried up ages ago
like it was only a dream.

Even well established trees are looking like they're struggling not to wilt away.

Short of rain dances and prayers,
there is one other thing you can do...

You can set up a rain catchment system!
A rain catchment system is a way to harvest rainwater from surfaces -- generally roofs.
Basically, hook up some barrels to your gutter downspouts and you'll be in business!

In about a minute of a good downpour, your barrels will fill right up!

Full speed ahead...
Catch that rain!

During a really good downpour we wish we had dozens of barrels...!
This one is already overflowing after only 90 seconds!

It's really a lot of fun!

Over the years we've managed to hook up 6 rain barrels, each holding 55 gallons.
So during any given burst of rain
we can quickly fill up 330 gallons of rainwater for future rationing out.


There are ways to hook up an empty barrel
(drill the right size hole, outfit it with a spigot and whatnot,
install some sort of screen on top to keep debris from clogging up, etc.)

Even if you get your rain barrels all ready to go, as we have,
you'll still need to deal with those downspouts.

Things you'll need: 
- a saw for metal and/or tin snips (to cut the gutter)
- a shovel (to level the ground where you want to place it)
- some bricks or stones if you want it to be raised off the ground
 (to be able to put a bucket under the spigot on the bottom)
And depending on how/where you're setting up, you might need
-  a diverter of some sort to aim the water into the rain barrel

Do this:
 Find your spot. 
Level it as best you can.
Raise it up with your material of choice if you want bucket access at the base.
Saw off your downspout higher than your rain barrel, but not too high. 
Insert a diverter to aim into your barrel's screened opening. 


You're ready to catch yourself some rain
to save for a non-rainy day
to give to your thirsty plants.

Here are some of our rain barrels...

I can see now that I need to level this one out better!

These flexible accordion diverters allow you to get multiple types
of configurations going on depending on what works best for your spot.
I think they're about $10 and they're easy to find at local hardware stores.

This one above was our most complicated set-up
because we needed to put our barrel on the other side of the house
at a 90 degree angle from our downspout.
It looks a little wacky, but it has worked out fine.

Down the hatch!
This one is a bit more straight forward...

FYI: hoses hook up easily.

Have fun trying to catch yourself some rain
for a non-rainy day...!


We have found that the hose on the bottom doesn't work very well in the long-run.  
Sediment ends up in the bottom of the barrel, despite the filtering screen on top.
We remedied the problem by cutting the lids so that they lift back.  
It was easy enough with a multi-tool.

Now, we simply lift the lid and scoop 1-gallon buckets down in and pull up the water. 
It's much easier and faster that way.


harvesting + curing garlic

Time to harvest garlic!

We love garlic.  And we use lots of it in cooking. 
One of my favorite things is to roast it
until it's caramelized and soft as butter
and smear it all over crostini with olive oil and salt.  (and sometimes cheese!)
When we roast it like that we tend to roast 5-6 bulbs at a time... 
So the bottom line is we go through a whole lot of garlic in a year!

This season we might have actually grown enough to get us through the year.

In the fall we planted cloves from our friend Wendy's prolific gardens.
Her varieties are spectacular producers, very robust, and delicious!

mid March. 
They were all coming up like champs in this bed.
Wendy taught us we could plant them closer together and get a better yield,
so we really crammed them in there!

mid May

mid July

We started the harvest last week...

Those few scapes that we left on for fun have split open now,
showing their treasure troves of seed.

We've never grown garlic from seed,
but I'm tempted to give it a try sometime...

so beautiful...

The bulbs always remind me of garden gnomes
with scruffy beards!!!

The dogs like to help with the harvest by keeping us company. 

The first bed of little aromatic beauties have been drying in our wood shed for 4-5 days.
It's not ideal, but it stays relatively dark yet has good air circulation...

The purpose for this stage of drying is to pull the moisture down from the greens -
the bulb will continue to be nourished for a few days until they dry up.

Now it's time to cut off the dried greenery. 
A small kitchen knife or scissors will do just fine.
We use an old tree stump as a cutting block.

Wendy taught us to leave 6-8" of the stalk on for the next phase of the drying process...

It'll pull out the rest of the moisture and further strengthen the bulb's storage capacity.

After we've trimmed them all down,
we lay them out to dry on old window screens propped up in our garden shed.
Highly improvisational, as are most things we do. 
Wendy has a whole gorgeous system with racks she's made just for this purpose...
Then again, she's a real farmer, and we just pretend!

Our homemade chick brooder has a screen on top so the bulbs have a place there for now. 
The rest are just more old window screens propped up wherever we can fit them!

Beautiful rows.
I'm not sure why, but I do love to stare at rows of food.
It does something to my psyche.
Maybe I suffered famine in a past life.
Maybe it reminds me that I'll be well fed!

So that's it for now...
We'll leave the garlic to dry / cure in the shed
on our drying racks
for at least 2 weeks. 

Then the final fun begins...!


poached eggs + radicchio + herbs

Poached eggs atop a bed of raddichio with herbs from the garden.

Radicchio has a way of looking like an opening flower on a plate.
And poached eggs, the beautiful center.

Nothing tops a poached egg from your own chickens...
I don't think a yolk could get any more golden or velvety...

More like nectar. 
As golden as the pollen the bees fly away with.


chicken bumper stickers

I once was a little crazy about bumperstickers.

I'm trying to be bumpersticker free now, but sometimes I'm really tempted to break out.

I found some chicken bumperstickers that are very tempting:



root beer float

The best root beer float combo:

Root beer floats are probably my #1 favorite summer treat. 
I have been on the quest to make the perfect root beer float for my tastebuds for years.

I need search no more!

After trying at least two dozen different root beers,
I found and am 100% pleased with Boylan's root beer.
It has the right balance of spice and bite tempered with a luscious creaminess.

Turns out I'm not alone in my love of Boylan's.
in a long line up of very worthy contendors.
 Then the ice cream.

I sampled every vanilla I could get my hands on.

 As much as I really really wanted to love a locally-made vanilla ice cream the most,
 alas, I cannot tell a lie.

 After the locally made, I sampled various mainstream and organic brands...

In the end, nothing compares to Haagen Dazs vanilla bean. 

It's the real deal. 

So many vanilla bean flecks.  Such a deep flavor.
Such a fabulous mouth feel.

 Then the two
get married
in a frosty glass
that's been chillin' in the freezer.

 Oh baby.
It's a beautiful thing.

Rises up and bubbles and pops and

 oh yeah.

and more yum!!!


hard work + early morning gifts

Sometimes all the morning chores can get to be a drag.

After weeks of no rain and high temperatures,
there's no choice but to do extensive watering every day.
At least once a day.

Our morning ritual is something like this:

rise up.
grind beans and brew.
feed dogs.
close windows.
draw blinds.
then grab a hose
and water
for like 90 minutes.
sometimes longer.

I get nervous that I'm draining the well...
And in the midst of that nervousness,
I also feel so grateful for this water
that comes from the depths of the earth.
Without it, we'd have no harvest.

After days and days of hose in hand,
I definitely feel like I am wading in the water.

I have become my astrological sign.
The Water Bearer.

While I was watering this morning
I began humming this great rendition
of Wade in the Water 
by Eva Cassidy.

Our CSA farm manager, Chris,
told us that farmers call watering
not irrigation.

Because it really is so much hard work,
most people have no clue he said. 

It is so labor and time intensive to keep things alive and thriving
when their natural environment does not provide optimal conditions.

(Sounds like a great metaphor for my day job with kids...
watering, watering, watering.
But also weeding, mulching, fertilizing.)

It's a great metaphor for therapy
or any mentoring relationship with a child.

And just like with all of that hard work,
the hard work in the garden also gives back. 
Sometimes the reward is just watching something grow.

It all comes around.

Today had some early morning gifts, like this bumpy surprise:

A ripe pickling cucumber
I found while watering
it's tangled green trellis of vines.

And a warm egg
left from one of our girls
early this morning.
Just look how big they're getting!!!

So we decided to see
with the help of our handy dandy new scale just how big they are
and to our delight, we have some XL eggs!!!

Thank you, girls!!!
Great work!!!